We are organising a series of events including workshops, seminars and conferences to gather thoughts, inspire research and disseminate outputs.
Online seminar 09/02/2022  From Eco to Smart: The Local Variegation and Spatial Circulation of Sustainable Urbanism Models

On 9th February 2022, the ChinaUrban project hosted an online seminar to discuss the development of eco-cities. Dr I-Chun Catherine Chang was invited to discuss this issue based on her research in the Global South. The event attracted more than 30 participants.

Dr Chang’s talk
Dr Chang’s talk

Catherine first illustrated the origin of eco-city and raised her research question about how this model works globally. There have been various eco-city initiatives in China especially connected with eco civilisation recently. Catherine introduced two cases, including Shanghai-Dongtan and Tianjin-Binhai. These two cases are different in terms of planning paradigms and government intervention. They also demonstrate articulation with political-economic regulations in China. Dongtan reflects urban entrepreneurship to attract foreign direct investment. In contrast, Tianjin is a more economic self-sufficient model, which is practical and replicable.

Moving beyond two cases in China, Catherine continued her talk with spatial circulation through policy mobilities. She investigated the sustainable urbanism industry and analysed the phenomenon of building eco-cities worldwide. She indicated several elements of commodification including labelling utopian images and study trips. Even for poor cities with insufficient funds, consultancy could help them with financial investment to build eco-cities. 

Catherine also pointed out several future research directions, including the local implementation, local variegation and spatial circulation of sustainable urban projects. In the discussion, Catherine answered questions raised by the audience. They mainly discussed the motivations of local governments to promote eco-cities.